Humans will worry about anything. Sometimes we worry about missing the bus and sometimes we worry about death. Yet, regardless of the size or severity of our worries we often fail to recall the absurdity common in them all. This reclamation can be daunting, but it allows us to focus on what’s truly important. As Noah Engel asserts, “I am no one” over and over on Harmony House’s album opener, ‘Bergman Summer’, you get the sense he’s aware of this absurdity underlying life. But this refrain is not a white flag for Engel; he refuses to give up on life because he has something to live for. As It’s A Powerful Thing transpires it becomes clear that love is Engle’s reason to live.
Over the ten tracks compromising the Brooklyn duos debut Engel’s belief in love is expressed with such conviction and beauty that all the cynics and misanthropes would be hard pressed to not follow suit. This is only made possible by the duos rather unique dynamic. Harmony House is one part singer songwriter, one part hip-hop producer, Noah Engel and Tony Giambrone respectively. The resulting outcome is a genuinely unique and cohesive sound. It’s remarkable that Engel and Giambrone manage to draw from various genres across It’s A Powerful Thing without sounding like an utter mess.
‘Doo Wop’ sounds like a laid back version of Purity Ring, whereas ‘Spencer’s Party’ verges more on the side of 60s pop. ‘Bergman Summer’ runs an unsuspected course, beginning with Engel’s comforting voice over the top of samples of running water and unassuming guitars, before finishing with a full-blown fuzz onslaught and drum sample of the Marketts. It’s life affirming, a triumphant summer anthem for the defeated. On ‘Running Back’ you feel compelled to laugh when a DJs air horn blasts the song into a pastiche of the Strokes and Vampire Weekend. It’s playful but sincere, and this small moment encapsulates that desire to embrace absurdity.
Throughout It’s A Powerful Thing Engel muses over love, as if unsure of his hypothesis on ‘Bergman Summer’ that love is the reason to live. But by the end of the record Engel has made his decision on ‘My Love’. Spilt into three broad sections and running nine minutes long the closing track is both ridiculous and fantastic. Acting as a manifesto for Harmony House it is the most assured moment on the record with Engel stating that love is in fact the answer. This might be simplistic, but it is a useful reminder. We are all guiltily of forgetting the important things in life when we get caught up focussing on trivial things. Sometimes we just need to remember to love.
Words: Evan Clements